Posts Tagged ‘postsecondary’

New Series by New America Explores the Impact of TAACCCT

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Recovery from the 2008 recession required an understanding of the new sets of skills that the labor market demanded, as well as an emphasis on postsecondary attainment. The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program was a $1.9 billion investment led by the U.S. Department of Labor in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education to do just that. The TAACCCT grant had the purpose of helping community colleges meet workforce needs by ensuring that learners acquired the skills needed to be successful in a career through postsecondary attainment. 

TAACCCT grants ran from 2011 through 2018, and in total 256 TAACCCT grants were awarded in all 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. This means that 60 percent of the publicly-funded community colleges in the country were affected by these grants, and almost 2,600 programs of study were created or improved to support adult learners in gaining skills that would bring them to a good job. 

Each TAACCCT recipient was required to go through a third-party evaluation so that the benefits, or shortcomings, of TAACCCT could be understand. New America reviewed all of the evaluations to determine whether or not the TAACCCT grant made a difference and what strategies utilized under the grant worked. 

One major takeaway from the analysis is that learners were almost twice as likely to complete a program, credential or both when enrolled in a TAACCCT recipient program than not. Increases in employment as a result of TAACCCT grants were seen as well. The full series of briefs by New America can be viewed here

The findings of these reports were discussed at a recent event on “Community Colleges as Engines of Opportunity: Exploring the Impact of the TAACCCT Program.” The event included panels that featured federal, state, college and nonprofit perspectives. A common theme was that the TAACCCT grant provided a unique opportunity to bring together education and industry representatives. These relationships allowed colleges to best serve their adult learners and set them up for success and helped all sides understand the connection between education and workforce development.

The final panel of the day was comprised of leaders at colleges that received the TAACCCT grant. The group reiterated the important role that community colleges have in supporting adult learners. Dean of School of Applied Technology & Technical Specialties, Salt Lake Community College, Eric Hauser, shared that “life comes at our students faster than others and one small thing can set them off course,” making student support services vital. 

A full recording of the event can be viewed here

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

College Affordability Act Released

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

On October 15, the House Committee on Education and Labor introduced the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674), the House Democrats’ long-awaited legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Some of the major initiatives of the bill include:

Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) intends this to be a comprehensive reauthorization, in contrast to the recent “mini” HEA reauthorization proposal, The Student Aid Improvement Act, introduced by Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

Advance CTE staff will continue to monitor changing developments with this proposal and related legislation. Advance CTE’s full recommendations for HEA reauthorization can be found here

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

By Sam Dunietz in Legislation, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

The Importance of Credit for Prior Learning to the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and its Students

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Guest blog from Dr. René Cintrón, Chief Academic Affairs Officer, LCTCS

Why Credit for Prior Learning?

Credit for prior learning (CPL) – often described by the American Council on Education as academic credit granted for knowledge and skills gained outside the classroom – supports the unique mission of community and technical colleges. These colleges provide students with the opportunity to earn affordable credentials in a timely fashion that lead to valuable employment and/or transfer, whether the credential is an industry-based certification or a career-technical or transfer degree.

Unfortunately, not every student completes their program. We surveyed Louisiana community and technical college students who withdrew from courses, and found that only 18 percent gave an academic reason for doing so. By far, more students were leaving college without completing a credential because of personal (53 percent) and/or financial (31 percent) reasons. Thus, the majority of students are not withdrawing because of challenges with course content but rather – simply put – because of time and money. CPL has the ability to tackle both of these challenges for students.

Our students come to our colleges with a wealth of knowledge they obtained through their careers, past learning, military service and life experiences.  When relevant, this knowledge can and should be applied to progress towards an academic credential. A few years ago, we started working with military partners in the state to increase the number of military students who enroll and graduate. Our approach was to treat the military transcript as an academic transcript. We don’t charge fees to transfer courses from other postsecondary institutions to ours, so why would we do that for students coming from the military? We took the same approach to students arriving with industry-based credentials (IBCs), transcribing and articulating these credentials as we do with courses on other transcripts. Thus, we consider these students to be “transferring in” just as students do from other institutions.

How Do We Do It?

Credit for prior learning evaluation is the process of determining how to award credit for college-level learning acquired through a variety of means. At the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), expert faculty groups, along with the chief academic officers’ group, met and did the work of compiling existing articulations and mapping future ones. The System reached out to entities such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Louisiana National Guard, the state’s Department of Education, the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the Workforce Investment Council, among others, to collect information on the various military courses and IBCs, to review them and determine which could be converted into Career Technical Education (CTE) courses.

The initial review involved each college determining its equivalent course and adding it to a matrix. The next step was to compile all of the colleges’ determinations into the system-wide articulation tables. These tables are updated and maintained on an annual basis, similar to academic catalogs. Then, importantly, the faculty and chief academic officers recognized that to ensure the staying power of their work, the process should be enacted into policy. In March 2018, the LCTCS Board of Supervisors approved revisions to Policy 1.023, which, in addition to supporting credit for prior learning, established guidelines for processing it, formalized the systemwide articulation matrix, and declared no cost to students for CPL course transcription for those in the matrix. The result: the 2018-2019 academic year, 2,073 students enrolled with credit for prior learning – a 50 percent increase from the prior year.

This kind of collaboration and commitment across a broad scope of professionals to reward students for their prior learning efforts exemplifies how Louisiana’s community and technical colleges are supporting students in reaching their college and career goals in a timely manner.

For more, see Advance CTE’s report Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Advance CTE Resources
Tags: , , ,

Using Advance CTE’s Policy Benchmark Tool to Address Gaps in “Policy” and Practice

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Guest Post by Whitney Thompson, Senior Director for Career and Technical Education, Illinois Community College Board

As the third largest community college system in the country, Illinois community colleges serve over 600,000 residents each year in credit, noncredit and continuing education courses. The Illinois community college system, made up of 48 colleges, has over 4,265 active, approved CTE programs spanning across all 16 Career Clusters®, which provide high-quality, accessible, cost-effective educational opportunities to the entire state.

In early 2018, Illinois embarked on the Postsecondary High-Quality CTE Program Approval Project. The goals are to assess existing program development and approval processes, align approval and review systems, identify technical assistance needs across the system, and share lessons learned within the broader CTE community.

This project was initiated just after Illinois went without a budget for close to two years. To add, investments in higher education over the last decade have been decreasing, or at best stagnant. Yet, thriving, modernized CTE programs across Illinois are critical to meeting the state’s goal of 60 percent of all Illinoisans with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025.

What We Found

Because of Illinois’ challenging fiscal predicament, the colleges were facing significant staff turnover. With this, the system was experiencing a hemorrhaging of institutional knowledge. One major goal of this project, although not as originally designed, became to document practices and processes to build institutional knowledge.

The loss of institutional knowledge was also recognized among Board staff. During the self-assessment of our policies using Advance CTE’s Policy Benchmark Tool, we found that in practice we were upholding quality metrics, but there were a number of critical gaps in “policy” – documented in our Program Approval Manual. In the end, these high-quality practices were being upheld by one to two staff.

In examining our policies at the state level, we found two areas that were “building” or “promising” but not “strong:” secondary-postsecondary alignment and experiential learning. After our state-level assessment, we brought together ten participating colleges to conduct assessments of their own program approval policies and practices, with an additional lens of how they went about developing programs.

While there was some initial resistance to a couple of the elements, namely requiring secondary articulation for all CTE programs and identifying a common set of statewide standards for CTE, largely, the colleges felt it to be a helpful exercise. Similar to our assessment at the state level, the colleges also found that secondary-postsecondary alignment and experiential learning did not meet the “strong” benchmark as desired. Additionally, a few colleges noted that the use of labor market information could be strengthened in the program development process, but more education and training may be needed for staff in retrieving and analyzing this data

Alongside these examinations of our program approval policies and practices, we embarked on research to better understand program development at the campus level. We engaged our partners at the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support to conduct fieldwork on each college’s program development process as well as identify needs for technical assistance. Their fieldwork produced a list of areas in which the Board can help the colleges be more systematic in their program development activities and documentation.

Next Steps

While the participating colleges were steadfast for change, we are finding that there may not be enough buy-in from the system at this time to completely revise the program approval policy due to its grounding in administrative rules. However, in the midst of our project, Congress passed Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), allowing us to leverage several principles to encourage each and every college to take another step forward.

Specifically, we will be leveraging Perkins V’s calls for smooth transitions (including multiple entry and exit points in programs of study), equitable access and outcomes, alignment to secondary programs, and expanding work-based learning. We look forward to continuing this work well into the future as support for CTE is echoed nationally. Advance CTE has been instrumental in giving CTE a voice on the national stage and supporting states in fostering high-quality CTE programs across the P-20 continuum.

To learn more about Illinois Postsecondary CTE visit: https://www.iccb.org/cte/.

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Public Policy
Tags: , ,

New Advance CTE Report: Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

College enrollment has increased over the past 10 years and is projected to continue growing over the next 10 for both full- and part-time students. At the same time, institutions face low retention and graduation rates. One policy that shows promise in increasing completion rates, especially for adult learners and those who served in the military, is credit for prior learning (CPL). CPL practices have been found increase access to and the affordability of postsecondary opportunities for a variety of learners — particularly adults and members of the military.

CPL policies can be found at the state, postsecondary system or institutional levels — and most often a combination of the three. Overall, control of CPL implementation tends to be greater at the local level than at the state level. Although creation and implementation of a formalized CPL policy typically falls to the state’s higher education system or the individual institution, state-level leadership can play a vital role in building support and momentum among stakeholders. 

To help states explore the significant impact of CPL and what their role should be in supporting these opportunities, Advance CTE- with support from the Joyce Foundation- examined research and best practices in Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner. This report features data on the benefits of CPL for learners, as well as best practices in Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee and Virginia across topics such as CPL for military service members, portability of credits, building in apprenticeships and industry recognized credentials in CPL, and communicating about CPL opportunities.

The report concludes with recommendations for how states can support CPL with and without statute. The strongest action a state can take is to enact a state statute that calls for implementation of CPL in all public two- and four-year institutions. Minimally, every state should have statewide policies that address CPL’s quality and consistency and ideally make implementation mandatory at each public institution. Aside from state statute, the report recommends that CPL should be incorporated into the state’s broad postsecondary agenda in the following ways:

  • Visible state leaders, such as State CTE Directors, governors and state higher education officials, should elevate CPL to be part of the conversation around education and workforce development.
  • The state should lead the efforts to publicize what CPL opportunities exist.
  • The state should facilitate coordination among the state, system and institutional levels in how CPL policies are developed and implemented.

The full report can be found here and a webinar on CPL featuring CPL leaders from Virginia and Louisiana can be accessed here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Advance CTE Resources
Tags: , ,

The Colorado Community College System is creating a new vision for career and technical education – and using Advance CTE’s Policy Benchmark Tool to support that process

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

As Colorado’s population and economy continue to boom, employer demand for skilled workers is at an all-time high. Career Technical Education (CTE) can meet that need and more. Last October, the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), which houses the state’s CTE operations, began the process of developing a statewide strategic plan for CTE. Branded “Next Gen Ed,” the plan aims to strengthen Colorado communities with a new direction for the role of CTE – not just as academic and technical preparation, but as a complete and impactful experience that prepares learners for their career, life, and civic participation.

Across the state, we are hosting visioning sessions with business and industry leaders, community members, and parents to understand how we can work together to provide an education for students that meets future workforce needs. Some of the topics being discussed are perceptions of CTE, work-based learning, and the transition from postsecondary education to the workforce. A critical aspect we’re also addressing in constructing our strategic plan is CTE program quality, and to help us do that, we’re using Advance CTE’s Program Approval Policy Benchmark Tool.

The Benchmark Tool is designed to help states evaluate and strengthen their secondary and postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) program approval policies and processes. It specifies the core elements that an effective program approval policy should have, and provides a step-by-step guide for CTE leaders to identify gaps in current state policy and prioritize areas for improvement. This can better ensure that all postsecondary CTE programs are of the highest quality and relevance.

In Colorado, we are using the tool to assess our state-level postsecondary policies, and we are introducing the tool to our academic discipline groups, which include key faculty from specific program areas from all the state’s community colleges. While the tool focuses on policy, using it means taking a deep dive into practice. How do we actually align programs of study with academic and industry standards? What does it mean to collaborate with our high school counterparts and with industry? These conversations have been supported by Advance CTE through a grant from The Joyce Foundation.

We know there is still a need for more career development in Colorado; we want all students regardless of interest to be prepared to enter the workforce and beyond. Our hope is that CTE will drive the state’s education, workforce and economic priorities. I am excited about our new CTE vision and strategic plan; I know it will contribute to stronger communities and will benefit this generation and future ones.

To learn more about CTE in Colorado and to stay up to date on the visioning process, visit coloradostateplan.com.

Sarah Heath, State CTE Director and Associate Vice Chancellor, Colorado Community College System

By Ashleigh McFadden in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

The National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine Releases Report Focused on Strengthening the STEM Talent Pipeline at MSIs

Monday, February 11th, 2019

There are roughly 700 Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) that produce one fifth of the nation’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bachelor’s degrees. To discuss the importance of these institutions to the nation’s future, on February 6, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine hosted a national convocation. The convocation focused on how to leverage MSIs to strengthen the STEM talent pipeline for nontraditional students and students of color.

The convocation was rooted in the National Academies’ report, Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce, which identifies promising programs and strategies to increase the quantity and quality of MSI STEM graduates and conveys the importance of MSIs to stakeholders. The report was developed with input from a committee with representation from industry, education and workforce institutions and identified seven promising practices to strengthen the quality of STEM education, research and workforce preparation for MSIs learners:

Key to the report is the emphasis it places on intentionality. To help illustrate what it would mean to be intentional about strengthening and supporting MSIs, the National Academies hosted panels and facilitated breakout groups at the convocation.The panels featured higher education, civil rights, industry and workforce experts with experience working with or advocating on behalf of learners at MSIs. Panelists discussed the importance of being intentional about establishing partnerships that outlast leadership and fostering an inclusive campus culture, among other topics.

Audience members then participated in solution-oriented breakout groups that focused on reimagining MSI partnerships, building financial capacity for MSIs, and being cognizant of culture and intentionality at MSIs. Participants in these breakout groups suggested establishing partnerships that would prepare MSI learners for the future of work, establishing a coalition of business partners to fund MSIs, and engaging non-minority faculty to mentor MSI students, among other solutions.

As state leaders work on promoting equity in Career Technical Education (CTE), they should consider how they can leverage the seven promising practices identified in the National Academies’ report to intentionally strengthen the STEM and other workforce talent pipelines for students of color. To learn more about how to advance equity in CTE, see Advance CTE’s Making Good on the Promise Series, which provides promising solutions to help state leaders close equity gaps in CTE.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

By Brianna McCain in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

HEA in Practice: UVM’s TRIO Upward Bound Program

Friday, January 4th, 2019

The Higher Education Act (HEA) authorizes the Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO), with the purpose of supporting learners at the secondary level in achieving a postsecondary education. TRIO encompasses six programs targeted for low-income learners, first generation college students and learners with disabilities to excel from middle school through postsecondary enrollment. One program included in TRIO is Upward Bound, which supports low-income and first generation high school students through high school graduation, college enrollment and college completion. In the fall of 2018, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance published a report that reviewed 200 Upward Bound programs across the country and came to the conclusion that such programs increase the number of colleges students applied to and led students to apply to more selective institutions.

Upward Bound has over 950 programs across the country. In Vermont, the University of Vermont’s (UVM) TRIO Upward Bound program (UVM Upward Bound) has found success. Through UVM Upward Bound, the university coordinates with Burlington High School and Winooski High School to support students in grades nine through twelve in progressing through secondary and postsecondary education. The program includes 63 students and works with the school counselors and teachers of both high schools to provide services such as college and career preparation. Additionally, the six-week summer program (held at the UVM campus) gives high school seniors the chance to plan for the college application process and write their application essays. The summer program also brings students to visit colleges outside of the state.

Recently, UVM Upward Bound was given a supplemental grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) opportunities for applicable students. In the summer of 2017, UVM joined 50 Upward Bound colleges in putting in place a three year STEM program called Teaching through Technology (T3). This new grant will further support STEM for Upward Bound students by allowing new technology to be acquired as well as hiring additional instructors.

Across Vermont, public colleges are coordinating with secondary schools through TRIO to support all learners in a pathway from secondary to postsecondary achievement.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Free College: Looking Ahead

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Advance CTE wrote a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore the future landscape of community college. Check out previous blogs on the history of free college, Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program and challenges and limitations to free college programs.

As of September 2018, there are over 350 local and state college promise programs across the country. Though the source of funding for free college varies , the goal of increasing access despite the growing cost of college is the commonality. So far, the 2018 election cycle has seen a number of candidates include some form of free college in their platform. Overall, ten Democratic gubernatorial candidates are promoting free college in their campaign. For example, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous is advocating for free community college and debt free four-year college, Arizona gubernatorial candidate David Garcia is supporting a proposal to make four-year public colleges free and Connecticut gubernatorial Ned Lamont is proposing making the first two years free at any state public college.

At the federal level, various members of Congress have introduced legislation that promotes free college. Perhaps most well known is Senator Bernie Sanders’ (VT-I) “College for All,” proposed in the spring of 2017, that promotes measures such as making all public colleges free for learners with a household income of up to $125,000 and having all community colleges be tuition free. In the spring of 2018 Senator Brian Schatz (HI-D) introduced the “Debt Free College Act” that proposes measures to make college debt free with a focus on the total fees associated with college (such as textbooks, food and housing) instead of only tuition.

The Institute for Higher Education explored the concept of free college, and came up with five ways to fix current programs and build “equity-driven federal and state free-college programs:”

  1. Invest first and foremost in low-income students;
  2. Fund non-tuition expenses for low-income students;
  3. Include four-year colleges in free college programs;
  4. Support existing state need-based grant programs; and
  5. Avoid restrictive or punitive participation requirements, such as post-college residency requirements

 

Additionally, the Education Trust evaluated free college programs through an equity lens, and developed equity driven guidelines to rate and improve current state tuition-free college programs or proposals. They built an eight-step evaluation to use when assessing free college program quality:

  1. Whether the programs cover living expenses;
  2. Whether they cover fees;
  3. Whether they cover the total cost of tuition for at least four years of college;
  4. Whether they include bachelor’s-degree programs;
  5. Whether adult students are eligible;
  6. Whether repayment of aid is required under certain circumstances;
  7. Whether there are GPA requirements; and
  8. Whether there are additional requirements to maintain eligibility

 

Although there is a growing national focus on free college, and even more state-level attention on this issue, a uniform agreement on what this should look like is lacking. There is no general consensus on what free college should look like and the scope of what “free” would truly mean. However, the overarching common goal of making college affordable and accessible will keep the conversation around free college moving forward.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Free College: Limitations and Challenges

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Advance CTE is writing a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore some of the challenges inherent in free college programs. Check out previous blogs on the history of free college and Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program, and look back next week for a blog on the future of free college.

Free college programs have become a popular idea to combat the rising cost of higher education and increase postsecondary attainment for all. However, a variety of different types of initiatives are branded as “free college,” when in reality that term can be misleading for what is actually provided. For example, state-led free college programs are typically “last dollar in.” This means that first grant aid, such as Pell grants, is given to learners and the state will pay for the remaining tuition. Although this is a significant contribution, this “last dollar” practice means that students are using only grant money for tuition instead of putting it towards additional costs of college such as housing, food, textbooks and any other fees. Most of the states that offer free college programs do so through this approach. Additionally, these free college initiatives are often directed toward students who recently graduated high school leaving non-traditional students with large financial barriers.

Free college is really addressed at the state level, instead of the federal level, which means there are inherent limitations. There are considerable constraints on the amount of money states are able to put toward free college programs. In order to keep the state costs low, limits are put on who is eligible and how exactly the money can be applied to the college. For example, states may only open free college programs to recent high school graduates and allow the money to be applied to community colleges, certain areas of study or include the stipulation that participants have to live and work in that state for a number of years.

Overall, state funding to higher education is shrinking. When states are forced to cut portions of their budget, higher education is typically one of the first areas to feel the impact. What’s more, Most of the state tuition-free programs are discretionary, so the allocated amount can change every year.  

Although the free college movement can improve access, because of the many limitations to what free college can actually mean, access is limited for low-income students. The Education Trust’s, “A Promise Fulfilled,” looked at 15 current and 16 proposed state free college programs, and found that unless they are specifically designed to address the needs of low-income students, they do not benefit these learners.

It is clear that although the notion of free college is a positive one, in practice such programs do not always increase opportunities for higher education for everyone. These programs do have potential for more equitable access to postsecondary education if they are created with intentionality. However, if the cost of college continues to go up, increased and equitable postsecondary attainment will persistently be a challenge.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

 

Series

Archives

1